Carl Jones and Edryce Reynolds, two leaders of Citizens for Responsible Justice, came in late yesterday afternoon to persuade us that the Citizens aren’t bad guys.
As in “bad guys who submitted a dubious application that won a $1.1 million grant they’ll use to import a bunch of felons to the Hilltop.”
Jones and Reynolds persuaded us, or me at least, that C4RJ is a well-intentioned group that fervently believes in rehabilitation but is in way over its head.
They overlook important things. They bungle paperwork. They forgot to apply for a renewal of their nonprofit status. They didn’t know they needed a business license. They have no legal counsel. They’ve got a frustratingly unhelpful Website that makes it look like they’re hiding something.
But – most of all – they think they can brush off the Hilltop Action Coalition and get away with it.
Jones said the coalition has been on their case ever since they opened a house at 811 S. 11th for released felons.
“They wanted us to sign a good neighbors agreement with them,” he said, aggrieved. “Why don’t they sign a good neighbors agreement with us?”
See “overlook important things,” above. The first thing anyone needs to know about the Hilltop is that the coalition guards it like a pack of Rottweilers. In the 1990s, HAC ran off the trigger-happy crack gangs who’d all but taken over the streets. It doesn’t send the Welcome Wagon out to ex-cons. You want to move a house full of released felons in, even for the best of reasons, you’d better make very nice with the coalition.
Does the Hilltop Action Coalition run the Hilltop? Jones demanded to know. Well … not officially. But asking the coalition to sign a good neighbors agreement is sort of like asking Wyatt Earp to turn over his guns, too, when you ride into Dodge.